Speaking at the 20-22 April Summit in Quebec, the Rt. Hon. Hubert A. Ingraham, Prime Minister of the Commonwealth of The Bahamas, indicated that the third gathering of Hemispheric Heads of State and Government represented a furthering of discussion geared toward promoting cooperation and collaboration. This, with a “view to building safer, more secure and more economically viable societies for our peoples.”

Although his formal presentation at the Summit addressed the issue of “Realizing Human Potential”, Prime Minister Ingraham also took the opportunity to call on both the US and Mexico to join Canada in support of the adoption of a level playing field between OECD members and non-OECD members with respect to that organisation’s initiative on harmful tax competition. The United States, Canada and Mexico are members of the OECD. The Caribbean Community (CARICOM) is of the view that the OECD should not require CARICOM member states to make adjustments in their financial services regimes unless such are being undertaken by OECD member states, including Switzerland.

While in Canada, Prime Minister Ingraham also held bilateral meetings on financial services with Mexican President Vincente Fox, President Fernando Cardoso of Brazil, President Hugo Chavez of Venezuela, and President Dr. Fernando de la Rua of Argentina. The Prime Minister spoke of the interest of The Bahamas in entering into mutual legal assistance treaties with these countries to facilitate the exchange of information on criminal matters.

During his talks with the Presidents of Argentina, Venezuela and Mexico, Prime Minister Ingraham assured them that concerns with inadequacies in the regulatory and supervisory regimes for financial institutions in The Bahamas – which could be exploited by those seeking to launder proceeds from illegal activities including corruption and drug trafficking -had been addressed by the new package of legislation adopted by The Bahamas Parliament in December, 2000. Such concerns were addressed also by the administrative reform and enhancement of The Central Bank of The Bahamas, with the adoption of new and stringent administrative regulations.

The Prime Minister said that he expects that as result of Bahamas Financial Services Sector reform, Mexico, Venezuela and Argentina will remove The Bahamas from the restriction lists which reflect these countries’ apprehension over corruption related to financial dealings, and that Brazil would not move to include The Bahamas on such a list, if promulgated by the country’s Parliament.